William Penn 49 chose to participate in the Kindness Challenge to support our initiatives of becoming a P.E.A.C.E. (Problem Solver, Empathetic, Accepting, Compassionate, Empowering) school and providing social and emotional lessons for students. P.E.A.C.E. emphasizes the character traits we believe people should possess to change the climate and culture of our school, community, and ultimately, the world.
Our school’s administration kicked off the Middle School Kindness Challenge by showing appreciation for staff members and posting notes of acknowledgement and appreciation, called “Tiger Roars,” on their classroom doors. Through the gratitude lessons provided by the Kindness Challenge, we began to involve students in this process. Students astonished us with the thoughtfulness of their notes to staff, parents, and their peers. The Tiger Roar became our school’s ritual.
Students also participated in daily random acts of kindness and lessons with their teachers and kindness captains, and our student council led the student body throughout this challenge by starting a donation drive to support homeless families at the Day Spring Center.
The Kindness Challenge provided a variety of enlightening lessons that succeeded in getting students and staff involved in this important work. One especially great lesson involved having a class of students write their names on index cards. The cards were then passed around in a group circle, and each student received someone else’s card. They were asked to write one kind word about “their person” on the card, and the students read the statements aloud. This was so eye opening and some very kind statements were made about one another.
We often don’t always recognize the people behind the scenes who make the school run smoothly. During the Kindness Challenge, our 7th grade students made signs of appreciation for our cafeteria staff. The smiles on their faces showed they truly felt appreciated in that moment, and it was wonderful to see.
I believe the Kindness Challenge changed our overall school climate and culture. Many of our students learned to “pay it forward” and do for others thanks to the Challenge.